Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Girl's Room: Cabinet, Hooks, and Bow Holder

"I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks as if they were great and noble."
-Helen Keller

What I'm reading: HGTV magazine

What I'm writing: Finishing up a new chapter one to YA novel

I have three quick projects from Charlotte's room to share with you today.  I promise, just a few more posts of girly and then we'll move on to some other rooms in the house.  Honestly it's a little overwhelming when I start looking at pictures of all the things we've done.  But I'm following the Fly Lady Mantra and tossing my perfectionism!  One post at a time!

First, the cabinet.  My mom was pretty dang excited to be getting her first granddaughter.  And when Mom is excited, she goes shopping.  I was never quite sure what she'd drop off at my house next.  And one afternoon she brought me this treasure:

She actually had to fight a lady at the D.I. (the Utah version of Goodwill) to get this cupboard.  No fists or anything but there was a little grandma-on-grandma tension.  Mom was pretty proud of herself.  I think my dad hid behind a rack of shoes until the air cleared.

Now, honestly, it's amazing.  It's real, solid wood and is clearly handmade.  It reminded me of a little red toy cupboard we had when I was little, that was made by my grandpa.  I was already up to my elbows in projects and my due date was approaching and so I tried and tried to convince myself the cupboard was just fine as-is.  But.  The color.  I love pink, but that's the 80's country mauve-rose-pink.  With bright orange showing through from the previous paint job.  I love some distressed chippy show-through as much as the next girl, but this just wasn't working for me.

I also thought about replacing the hardware, but the more I looked at them, the more I loved the vintage flower knobs.

Finally I decided to just break down and do a make-over.  I knew it would bug me every time I looked at it if I didn't.  First I disassembled.

Don't you love that bright orange???  Whoever did the pink paint job didn't even take the hardware off.  Which left the cool vintage hardware looking like this:

Sad, but nothing a little spray paint won't fix.  I decided to go with Brushed Nickel to match the other accents in the room.

Here's a tip when spray painting hardware.  Use styrofoam!  I just poked all the little screws in a styrofoam block to keep them from rolling around.  It also made moving them from place to place much easier.  It was February when I worked on this project so I did the painting in the garage and then carried the blocks inside to dry where it was warmer.

I put the knobs up on toothpicks.  It worked great.

Meanwhile, the cupboard got three coats of white paint.  I didn't prime.  I used a cheap foam craft brush for the details and a large bristle paint brush for the rest.  This is the same paint we use on our doors and trim.  It's Sherwin Williams and is a custom match to the white paint the prior owners used on the trim.  We like to keep things easy, yo.

Because it was cold outside and I was getting pretty prego, I just laid painter's plastic on the floor in the nursery and painted it right there.  Worked just fine.

After the paint was dry and cured (I gave it a few days just to be sure) I got to work adding my own special pizzazz.  I used one of my favorite go-to resources for cheap decorating:  wrapping paper.  This design came from WalMart.  It was the perfect color.  And I dig polka dots.  

I had never ModPodged furniture before, so I did a lot (way too much) of obsessive reading on the Internet.  I finally decided to use ModPodge Hardcoat.  I wanted something durable.  It worked just like regular ModPodge, only I added multiple coats on top to create a nice finish.  My bigger problem was the application.

AAAAGGGHH!  I know!  I freaked out!  As soon as the wrapping paper hit the wet ModPodge, it went all curly and bubbly and did not want to lie flat.  And because it's just cheap wrapping paper the more I tried to scrape it down, the more it just peeled off.  It was bad, friends.

But.  It was just cheap wrapping paper!  I took a deep breath and walked away.  And did some more obsessive reading on the Internet.  Turns out, if you are worried about your paper being too thin to work with the moisture in ModPodge you can spray both sides with a quick coat of clear spray paint.  This seals the paper and protects it from warping.  So I went back, scraped off the bad news with a plastic Pampered Chef scraper, and tried again.  It worked just fine and turned out fabulous.

Here is the finished product:

Charlotte loves this cabinet!  At first I used it mostly for decoration and hid not-cute stuff in the bottom behind the doors.  Now that she's almost three, she has her own opinions, so it's got toys on the shelves and books in the bottom.  It works great, she loves it, and the paint and paper have held up beautifully.  Score for Grandma!

A few notes on the other items.  The amazing wall mirror came with our house.  It was above the sink in the utility bathroom.  It was way too small for that spot but I loved it.  It was a funky yellow-cream color so it got a coat of white spray paint like just about everything else in the room.  The small vanity mirror is an antique from my husband's grandmother.  The adorable princess piggy bank came from Hobby Lobby (another Grandma splurge).  And that little birdbath jewelry holder on top?  A gift from my friend Sue, who knows exactly what I like.  Everyone needs a friend like Sue!

Next, I knew I needed somewhere to put all her headbands and bows.  First, I looked through my stash for something with hooks, and I found this.

My sister-in-law gave me these super cute bee hooks for my birthday several years back.  I love them, and we used them for keys in our old house.  But since we moved, I hadn't found the perfect place to use them.  I especially love the twisted wire wings.

The colors were a little more rustic than I was going for in the new house, and especially in Charlotte's room, but I was afraid of ruining my cute hooks.  I worried and fretted for a while, and then I decided to just go for it.  So the first thing I did was pull off all the adorable bees.


This was scary.  It really was.  But they came off really easily.  I should know by now that nothing is ever as hard as I make it in my head.  Next, I spray painted the entire thing bright white.  Then I painted the center section (the part that was off-white) a light pink.  The color is Glidden- Pink Peony.  It was a paint sample I got for free during a promotion.  I just did it by hand, without taping the edges, and used the brush built in to the sample bottle.  I gave the bees a quick dose of spray glitter and re-attached them.  Ta da!  Worked great, and I love them even more than before.

Finally, a bow holder.  I know there are billions and billions of tutorials, so I won't go into details here.  I thought you might enjoy the before and after, though.

Before:  Old thrift-store frame.  Dark brown wood, really (not!) beautiful gold painted trim.  This is after I removed the cardboard from the center.

After:  A coat of white spray paint on the frame.  Pink fabric stretched over existing cardboard and attached with hot glue.  Then I raided my ribbon stash.  I did use the same brown ruffled ribbon to tie in with the lamp.  I just attached those with hot glue too and reassembled.

Here it is all loaded up.

The hamper at the bottom is an antique I found at the DI.  It's in perfect condition and I love its groovy vibe.  It's full of dress-up clothes.  

And there you have it!  Three fun projects using items I already had (except for the wrapping paper).  The baby headbands are gone so we use the hooks for dress-up purses.  I love that we still use these items as Charlotte gets bigger, just for different things.  That's the best kind of project.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Baby Girl's Nursery, Part 3: Lamp Makeover

"We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light."

What I'm reading:  It Starts with Food
What I'm writing:  romance novel

As promised, today I am bringing you my lamp makeover.  That's right, your dreams have come true.

Much like the previous post about my canvas alternative, I wanted a cute lamp for Girl's dresser but did not want to spend $30+ at Target.  I headed to one of my favorite treasure-hunting spots:  the D.I., otherwise known as Deseret Industries.  For those of you who are out of state or not familiar with the D.I., it is basically Utah's version of Goodwill.  There are always lots of ugly "nice personality" lamps to choose from, and I was not disappointed this trip.  I spent $3 on a tall candlestick lamp with a square shade.  I wanted something with good form but I was not worried about color since I knew I would be performing an Extreme Makeover.

In typical not-yet-a-blogger fashion, I did not take a proper "before" picture of this lamp.  Just know that the base was kind of a beige with hand-painted floral vines running up the side.  A couple quick coats of white spray paint took care of the base.  (Remember, when painting lamps, always tape off the metal top section where the lightbulb goes, and the cord if desired.)

My bigger concern was the shade.
First, I was a little scared to tackle a square shade because I wasn't sure how to accommodate the corners.  This was another project where I spent way too much time obsessing over how to make things work, and finally said, "Shut up brain!" and decided to wing it.  I have found that no project is EVER as difficult in real life as I make it in my head.  The bigger concern, though, was that the shade was kind of a hand-made paper texture over very thin plastic, with dried leaves and twigs embedded in the paper.  I thought maybe I could just leave the garden clippings in the shade, but when I tried holding fabric over the lamp with the bulb on, this is how it looked:
AAAARGH!  Ghost Plants!  They only come out when the lights are on!  (There might be a book idea in that...)

Seriously, though, I knew I would never be happy with seeing these weird silhouettes every time we turned on the lamp.  At this point I had serious doubts the shade was salvageable, so I figured, what the heck, I'll try ripping out the foliage.
Using my amazing finger nails, I just carefully picked at the shade until I tore through the top paper layer, and then removed the dried botanical specimens.  It was very technical.  When I finished, the shade looked like this:
A little rough, but not bad, considering I was planning on covering the entire thing with fabric.  I spent some time on the Interwebs and found a perfect tutorial on Crafty Little Chick for covering a square lamp shade.  Once I had seen an example, I had a lot more confidence.

First, I laid the shade on one side on scrap paper and traced it to create a pattern.
(Yes, friends, that is Stampin' Up! scratch paper.  I pretty much used what I had sitting on my craft table.  I'm lazy resourceful that way.)  Next I pinned my pattern to my fabric of choice, which I had already washed and ironed.  I don't know why I pre-washed it, since there was really no risk of throwing my lamp shade in the washer and shrinking it.  I guess I'm an overachiever.
In the tutorial, she put matching bias tape around the corners, the top, and the bottom of the shade.  I decided I wanted to add decorative trim around the top and bottom instead, so I opted to just fold the fabric over the edges.  I added a little tab on the top and bottom to make this work:
I squared the edges of the top and bottom tab so I wouldn't have big bunches of fabric in the corners.

Next I used fabric glue along the edges to adhere the fabric.  This was a great option, since I figured my hot-glue gun would melt through the thin plastic of the shade.  I loved Crafty Little Chick's tip to use the glue only on the edges so the fabric can be removed easily if desired.  I am a nerd who hoards office supplies, so I had plenty of binder clips to hold the fabric in place while the glue dried.

I used 7/8" Heat n Bond tape to make bias tape for the four corners.  It was very easy and I discovered I really love this stuff.  Good thing I followed my craft hoarder instincts (are we noticing a hoarder theme here?) and bought 4 rolls.  One would hate to run out, wouldn't one? 
 I used hot glue to apply the bias tape to the edges, and to add Stampin' Up! Chocolate Chip ruffled ribbon around the top and bottom of the shade.  Now that I had fabric, I wasn't worried about melting the plastic.

NOTE:  The hardest part of this project was choosing the ribbon.  I sent a multitude of pictures to my sister, who patiently and lovingly told me they all looked great.  That is her official job as my sister.  In the end I loved the contrast between the light green and the dark brown.  Plus, the ribbon was pre-ruffled, which gave it about 50 bazillion bonus points.
Finally, I tried my hand at making ribbon rosettes.  I hadn't made these before, but there are tutorials all over the web.  They were very easy and honestly, would have been even cuter if I hadn't been all perfectionisty about wrapping them.  I used strips of pink fabric for two of them, and Mambo Melon polka dot ribbon from Stampin' Up! for the third.  I rocked the "use your stash" rule on this project.
 And the finished product:
Quite in love.  For this project I bought Heat & Bond tape, and that's it.  I had everything else already.  There are no Ghost Plants when I turn it on, and everyone who has seen the lamp thought it was purchased this way.

Thanks to Crafty Little Chick for the tutorial.  I think this is a great example of taking an idea you see online (or from a friend or in a magazine or whatever) and making it your own.  Be brave, say "Shut up, brain!" and go for it!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Baby Girls Nursery, Part 2: Wall squares

"You cannot adjust the wind, but you can adjust the sails."

What I'm reading:  It Starts with Food (I'm slow, okay?)
What I'm writing:  Back to the romance.  Charge!

Our house is big and "middle-aged" (not old!) and we have tons of expensive projects on the list that aren't all that fun or decorative (like replacing the water heater).  Because my decorating budget tends to run on the slim-to-none side, I'm always up for ideas that make a big impact for not a lot of dollars.

In the middle of my serious nesting, Husband and I took a pilgrimage over to the Salt Lake area to shop at Target (cue rays of light and singing angels).  I found these adorable canvases.  They were the perfect color and went right along with my cutesy woodland theme:
But.  BUT.  (And that's one big but.  From a girl who knows about big butts.) Check out the price tag.
$25 a piece????  Okay, in the scheme of things that is not a lot of money, but for one canvas... there was no way I was blowing chunks (ha ha) of my budget on a little wall canvas.  And then the little bell in my head went DING!

I remembered this post about wall art using scrapbook paper on one of my favorite blogs, Thrifty Decor Chick.  Now, if there's one thing I have hoarded enjoyed over the years, it is PAPER!  I love paper.  I was a Stampin' Up! demonstrator for eight years and I have quite the scary craft cave of doom collection.  Between my paper "collection" and my friend Cricut, I knew I could come up with something similar for much, much less.

Note:  One of my favorite tricks for coming up with a theme/mood/color scheme for a room is to find a paper collection that I love and use it for inspiration.  It helps me focus my efforts.  Some folks use fabric, but what can I say- this girl has a serious thing for paper!

I was right on board with using squares of MDF instead of canvas.  I bought a big sheet of 3/4" MDF and had the guy at Home Depot cut it for me.  It took about 5 minute to have the whole board cut into 12x12 squares and they didn't charge me anything for the cutting.  Husband acted a little miffed that I didn't bring it home for him to cut (something about manly pride) but I think he was secretly glad.  And that board would have ended up in our "Projects" pile for our kids to toss out after we die.  Because it would have sat there for 80 years.  At least.

First I lightly sanded the edges of the squares, but I didn't worry too much about perfection.  Then I painted all the edges white with plain old acrylic craft paint.  I made sure to paint about an inch around on the face of the board in case the wood and the paper weren't exactly the same size.
You can see in this picture how I've raised up the squares.  I just put scrap pieces of 2x4 under the boards.  This is so the paint doesn't stick to the newspaper covering my craft table.  Nothing ruins a great paint job like a bunch of lousy newspaper that just can't let it go!
I have made MDF squares for some of my other room, but I've always just used solid sheets of paper.  I wanted something a little more graphic for Girl's room, like the images on the Target canvases.  I turned to a Cricut cartridge that I'd always wanted to buy, but couldn't justify until I found out we had a girl coming to our family.
This is my Cricut station.  I clip little notes on the clothesline (from Ikea) to remind me of my settings for different projects.  That way I know how to set the speed, pressure, and blade for the Cricut, and the size I chose for each image.  
 Next I went through my hoard collection and chose all the paper I thought might work for this project.  I am a total craft snob, and I think Stampin' Up! paper and cardstock is absolutely the best quality.  I may not be a demonstrator anymore, but I have enough paper to last me through the 100-year zombie apocalypse.  For those who are fellow Stampin' Up! snobs, I used Certainly Celery, Soft Sky, Mambo Melon, Pink Pirouette, and Chocolate Chip.  I started by ModPodging an entire sheet of paper on each board.  My main colors for the room are aqua, light green, and pink, so I went with pinks and greens to contrast with the aqua wall color.
Next I started cutting out the image layers for each square.  I chose an owl, a mushroom, and a ladybug.  I cut the shapes as big as possible to still fit on a 12x12 background.
The hardest part of this project was waiting for the ModPodge to dry between layers.  I distracted myself by working on other things upstairs.  I would ModPodge a layer and then just leave the craft room so I wasn't tempted to add the next layer too soon.

If you've not worked with ModPodge before, I have a couple of tips.
1.  Don't be scared.  MP is amazing stuff, and very forgiving.  It's really very easy so don't talk yourself out of trying it because you think you'll mess it up.  Also, paper is very cheap, so if you do mess it up, scrape it off and start over.  You're not out much, and if the craft stores are closed during the Zombie Apocalypse, you can always come raid my stash.
2.  Brush it on with a foam brush and remember your motto:  Thin, even layers.
3.  Smooth out all the bubbles.  Start from the center and rub outwards to push any extra out the edges.  
4.  Even the best MP job will have a few bubbles left.  It always looks better after it dries so don't freak out if things look a little lumpy at first.  I promise.  It always looks better after it dries.  I will repeat this mantra as often as needed to help you keep from hyperventilating.

Once I had all my layers in place, Husband helped me hang the boards on the wall.  We did it exactly the same way as Thrifty Decor Chick- nails right through the corners.  I think he pre-drilled the holes, but I had pregnancy brain and that detail has gone bye-bye.  Sorry.

And here is the grand reveal:

LOVE THEM!  SO MUCH!  The vinyl above the boards is also from Stampin' Up! (now retired).  It is one of my favorite quotes and I earned the vinyl for free, but I'd been waiting for the perfect place to hang it.  I want my baby Girl to have confidence in herself and to follow her dreams, so this was the perfect place.

We hung the boards right above the changing table.  Every time I changed a diaper, Girl points at them and we talk about the pictures and the colors.  I always tell her, "Mama made these for you, because she loves you."  It still makes her smile.  And they make me smile too.

All things considered, these wall squares cost me about $3 for the wood, since I used things I already had on hand.  (Husband the accountant would point out that the supplies I had on hand still cost money, but who wants to listen to him, anyway?)  That's much better than $75 if I had bought three canvases at $25 each.

Thanks for sticking around through this very long post.  Next time I'll show you my lamp makeover.  I bet you just can't wait.